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The 11 Best Breakfast Bars
by BrandDoctorKerry

Rate: TerribleRate: OkayRate: AverageRate: Pretty goodRate: Excellent    (98 votes)

A recent Label Lesson unwrapped the dark side of breakfast bars. This week we want you to take an oath:

I swear I will NEVER touch another Healthy Food Imposter breakfast bar again. I will ONLY eat breakfast foods that provide my body with whole grains and other natural, healthful ingredients - no matter how long it takes to prepare such a breakfast…

Just kidding! You don’t have to give up convenience to enjoy a great breakfast.

That’s right… you can be good to your body even if you don’t have time to prepare a full-blown morning meal. The food sleuths here at eBrandAid.com have tracked down a few good breakfast bars that have nutrients and convenience!

Case in point: LARABAR Raw Food Bar Chocolate Coconut Chew

Cals 220, 12g fat, 0 sodium, 18g sugar, 5g fiber, 5g protein

Ingredients: Dates, Almonds, Walnuts, Unsweetened Coconut, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder.

Friends, this bar contains the Holy Trinity of healthy eating: CONVENIENCE, NUTRITION and ENERGY!

Decoding the fine print

So why is this breakfast bar worth your time and money, you ask? If the ingredients don’t speak for themselves, our food sleuths are happy to speak for them. Take a look:

This bar (like all the LARABAR varieties) is crafted from fewer than six ingredients.

The unsweetened cocoa provides more antioxidants than green tea.
The dates, coconut, almonds and walnuts are all nutritional superstars!

The fiber, protein, good carbohydrates and healthy fats are derived exclusively from whole, raw foods.

This bar is a wholefood NATURAL source of 16 essential vitamins and minerals, including fiber, vitamin E and folic acid. There’s no need for a red-flag label claim like “fortified with vitamins and minerals.”

Sugars and carbs come from fruit, not from processed, added junk sources.

And the best part, they come in 14 amazing flavors all of which are free of added sugars and sweeteners, preservatives, fillers, and artificial colorings.

There’s nothing not to love about this breakfast bar!

Best Brands

Variety is the spice of life – and important to any healthy eating plan – so we’re serving up more nutrition-on-the-go breakfast bars that meet our BestBrands standards:

The first few ingredients are made from wholefood sources like dates, nuts or whole grains such as rolled oats, wheat, barley or brown rice flour.

They have at least two grams of fiber per serving, and no more than 250 calories per bar.

And of course, they’re void of our least favorite junk ingredients like refined sugars, refined grains, trans fats, artificial sweeteners and colors, and harmful preservatives.

Finally, they’re good and good for you! And by the way, these aren’t just for breakfast anymore – they make great in between meal snacks too!

Note: Remember, all varieties of the same brand are NOT created equal! Please make sure you are choosing the recommended variety within each brand. When in doubt, read the ingredients label!

Clif Nectar Organic Fruit and Nut Bar (all flavors)

Health Valley Granola Bars Lowfat Chocolate Chip

Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bars Honey Almond Flax

Kashi Honey Toasted 7-Grain

Kashi Chewy Granola Bars Trail Mix

LARABARS (All flavors)

Nature's Choice Multigrain Cereal Bars

Nature Valley Granola Bites Oats 'N Honey

Nature Valley Roasted Nut Bars Peanut Crunch

Odwalla Nourishing Food Bars Carrot Raisin

Simple Harvest All Natural Multigrain Chewy Granola Bars (all flavors)

Remember, when you're armed with a little eBrandAid know-how,
you're in control at the grocery store.

Kerry McLeod is eBrandAid.com's chief Brand Doctor and a regular blogger here at Diet.com. Kerry's mission in life is to teach food shoppers how to cut through the clutter at the grocery store in order to find the truly healthy brand-name foods. Go to www.eBrandAid.com for more information.

August 23, 2010

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7-Day Menu: Quick 'n Yummy Family Dinners
by SallyKetchum

Rate: TerribleRate: OkayRate: AverageRate: Pretty goodRate: Excellent    (88 votes)

Autumn is mainly a back to school time for me, even though I’m not in a classroom, learning or teaching. When my three kids were young it seemed that, like many moms now, I was in and out of school nearly daily, busy with PTA projects, sports boosters, or helping room mothers. I loved it!

Autumn also means hectic days with different schedules for different kids. We are so busy nowadays, and also, it seems more kids are determined “to do it all,” and kids doing all is mighty hard on the parents, especially working mothers. Fatigue after a hard day can leave even the most creative, brainiest of cooks left with that question, “What can I fix for dinner?”

Since fall is also a harvest time, some kitchens are running the canning and freezing marathon now. While putting food by for winter, it’s easy to raid the bounty for a few meals for the immediate future.

It’s easy to make partial meals for convenience when there is little time to cook. This means family-sized packets of vegetables in various forms, tomato sauces with herbs or spices that will sauce pasta or be the basis of chili, packets of soup starters to freeze, ready to thaw-heat-and eat soups, and even some casseroles to freeze. (Before baking, sprinkle with crumbs and dot with butter.)

A family might even get the kids involved, and make “prep packages” on a weekend night with everyone working in assembly line fashion. It’s fun and also a reason to get the family together.

Years ago, we tried to bring everyone together once a week for “family meetings” to discuss individual concerns. (Our kids dreaded family meetings because they thought we parents always bullied them. Probably true... until the kids took high school debate.)

At one of these meetings, we decided that we would make a loose plan for a week’s dinners, nothing set in cement or spaghetti sauce, of course, but a plan with a general entrée category for each day in the week. This time, the kids’ input was important, and their input made the plan successful.

The results went something like this:

Monday: Pasta Night
A pasta, a vegetable, a tossed salad, and bread (usually hard rolls). Pasta with red sauce, or Alfredo, or white clam or perhaps a creamy seafood sauce.

Tuesday: Kids’ Choice
But they had to declare their choice on Sunday, giving the cook shopping time. This was often hot potato salad because each child could pick out his favorite part, the sweet-sour potatoes, bell peppers, onions, or sausage, etc.

Wednesday: Ethnic cuisine
Usually easy Mexican, but sometimes Eastern European (goulash), British (fish and chips), Italian (meatballs in red sauce), Russian (stroganoff), etc. A slaw, fruit or salad completed the meal.

Thursday: One Pot/One Item Dinners
Stew, chicken or beef pies, pasties, clam and corn chowder, or corned beef. (Why do some folks only have corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day? Tip: For the few extra cents, choose flat cut over point cut. Flat cut means savings in the end in use and ease for leftovers.)

Friday: Health food and Diet Night
This usually turned out to be balanced, but low-calorie meals for us, the dieting parents, and large portions of healthy food for our in-shape, athletic kids (along with some basic education about the foods on the tables, hopefully with a joke or two.) Groaners: Why did the tomato turn red? It saw the salad dressing. What is green and goes to summer camp? A Brussels Scout. How do you fix a cracked pumpkin? With a pumpkin patch?

Saturday: Surprise Day
Anything goes! Even eating together, but with modern Saturdays, it usually means fast food or filled-at-home sack lunches or picnic hampers, food to be eaten after hockey or soccer practice or on the way to friends. The best surprise: the family cooking together when the day’s events are over.

Sunday: What's cookin'
Usually do-it-yourself breakfast with foods laid out
A mid-day Sunday dinner, a pot roast, stuffed pork chops, or steak on the grill, but a meal with a starch, vegetables (maybe two), relishes, and dessert (might be just cookies). Snacks or sandwiches in the evening.

As I cooked those busy back to school days and through the long school year, our family routine gradually altered the original plan. Plans for certain nights faded.

Monday wasn’t always pasta because we often had leftovers from Sunday, a day I like to cook. But Easy Night Friday stuck: Diet and health food sets the tone, a great way to start a fall weekend.

Still, I have our old entree-for-the-day plan perking along in the back of my mind. I’m lucky; I never have to ask, “What can I fix for dinner?”

October 5, 2009

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Happy Halloween: Best, Worst Candy
by ShaunaS

Rate: TerribleRate: OkayRate: AverageRate: Pretty goodRate: Excellent    (64 votes)

We’ve officially kicked off the candy-themed holidays with a big bang – Halloween! If you’re scared by the candy invading your home, office, school and every business you walk into, I understand!

It can be hard to stick with a healthy eating plan when candy is staring you down everywhere you turn.

While it may seem impossible to keep your hand out of the candy jar, it’s not impossible. Read on for some tips on sticking with your plan and which candies are not so spooky.

13 Spook-tacular Tips
• Buy candy the day before Halloween and buy only what you need.

• If you buy candy - buy something you do not like or try lollipops (they are harder to overindulge in!).

• Discard leftovers or donate leftovers to your local church, charity or neighbors and set a specific date to rid of candy.

• Don’t shop for candy when you are hungry.

• Try to give away all of the candy you bought – a good deal for late trick or treaters!

• Try non-food treats such as stickers, pencils, erasers, bracelets or plastic spiders.

• Try healthier treats such as 100-calories packs (crackers, cookies or fruit snacks), juice boxes, microwave popcorn, mini boxes of raisins, sugarless gum, mini packs of baby carrots or peanuts.

• Vow to keep a munch log and record every innocent treat you eat!

• Read the nutrition facts before you empty the bag and throw it away.

• Plan a treat into your day but try to keep it under 150 calories. You can use this as a substitution for your normal treat.

• Vow to walk 10-minutes for every extra treat that you eat.

• Follow the same rules your kids follow – you probably don’t let them indulge in Halloween candy whenever they want!

• Make your dentist proud and brush your teeth after each treat – this will also help signal that you are done with the treats.

Some candy facts are downright scary and others not so much – take a look at my top 5 best and worst picks.

Say no to these candies in the jack-o-lantern (these “snack” sized treats can easily add up to more than a regular candy bar!):

1. Snack Size Twizzlers: 130 calories
2. Snack Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup: 110 calories
3. Snack Size Butterfinger: 100 calories
4. Fun Size M&M’s: 100 calories
5. Snack Size Milky Way: 90 calories

Say yes to these candies in the jack-o-lantern in moderation (remember, just because they’re little doesn’t mean they don’t add up!)

1. Mini Tootsie Roll: 13 calories
2. Reese’s Mini Cup: 35 calories
3. Treat Size Box Milk Duds: 40 calories
4. Miniature Box Raisins: 45 calories
5. Treat Size SweetTarts: 50 calories

Have a lot of trick and a little treat this Halloween!

Shauna Schultz, RD

October 31, 2008

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